Our unlikely links to Warhorse

Local members may have heard our Chairman, Roger Radcliffe, on Radio Cornwall on Friday 27 January 2012 talking about two famous St Agnes heavy horses which were hidden in an adit and cave close to Chapel Porth to prevent them being requisitioned by the Army at the start of The Great War. Radio Cornwall’s interest was aroused by the success of the film Warhorse. Roger was able to tell listeners that one horse, Captain, was from Beacon Cottage Farm, and thus a farm horse, whilst the other, Albert, was the prized lead horse of a team of heavy horses that hauled machinery, often to and from the mines, around Cornwall for their owner Jimmy Thomas.

A later caller to Radio Cornwall, Mr Thomas’ grandson, Mr David Newton, added that Albert was a huge, dapple grey shire that understood twenty commands. He thought that Albert was eventually bought by the Army on a return visit and shipped to France. Apparently Mr Thomas lost twenty-six of his heavy horses to the Army on their first visit, so it is not surprising that he hid Albert.

According to Mr Newton, only six of the twenty-six horses survived the war, and were so shell-shocked on their return to Cornwall that it took several years for them to recover.